Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

My Ratings System Explained…

I hate assigning stars, thumbs up, whatever to movies. I figure that if someone spends months or years of their life and hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars of someone’s money to make something for the enjoyment or appreciation of others, then who do critics think they are anyway to spend a mere couple of hours watching and then dismissing all of this work and pain as a waste of time?

Despite feeling this way, I do assign ratings to movies. The fact is that, when I wasn’t doing so, I was constantly getting pressure from people to use a rating system or at least the old thumbs up/thumbs down. People just really need to have some sort of visual shorthand. But then the question arises: how do you compare, for example, an exquisite artistic masterwork by a European filmmaker to a slam-bang action entertainment from Hollywood? The answer is: you don’t. Each film has to be rated against itself, its genre, and what it was aiming for.

For the first eight years that I authored this web page, I used a five star system. It took that long to realize that I was using too many stars. I was barely using the one- and two-star ratings, so it seemed silly to even distinguish between those two. So, starting in August 2003, I have been using a four-star system. So, here is how my current rating system works:

4 out of 4 stars
Four stars mean this film is a classic. It is one of my all-time favorites and very special to me. Five stars are bestowed rarely. My recommendation: Do not rest until you have seen this movie.

3 out of 4 stars
Three stars mean that this film is a cut above what is usually turned out by Hollywood. My recommendation: If you get a chance to see this movie, definitely do so.

2 out of 4 stars
Two stars mean that this film is not hugely better or hugely worse than most movies turned out by Hollywood. Most films I see get this rating. You may enjoy it quite a bit or maybe not. My recommendation: If it sounds interesting to you, then go ahead and see it.

1 out of 4 stars
One star means that this film was a disappointment, an embarrassment or both. It had promise and should have been much better than it was. My recommendation: Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you might want to see something else instead.

0 out of 4 stars
No stars means that this is just a bad movie. I can usually find something redeeming about every film I see, but I had to look really hard to find anything at all redeeming about this one. My recommendation: See this movie only if you are being paid to see it.